Just a few short months ago, none of us could have imagined the changes that were in store for us as Alto community members, much less as global citizens. As weeks have passed, the surreal has become the 'real' in our lives. As Alto transitioned to this new reality, so has its teaching and learning. Alto's short term distance learning plans have evolved into a longer-term virtual program that is routinely being reflected upon and adjusted.
In an effort to exercise some control over what has been to date a very uncertain, dynamic situation, a team of Alto staff and parents met over a period of a few weeks to proactively plan for the start of the new school year. The conversations yielded three obvious scenarios: a virtual start, a blended start, and a space-based start as our school and community shift into the 'new normal.' It is understood that along with these scenarios, there is a need for flexibility, thoughtful preparations, consideration of the emotional and social well being of community members and ensuring learning opportunities that respond to the diverse needs of the learners.
Of course, the desire of the entire community is to start the new school year by physically reopening the campus. If indeed that does occur, we must adhere to the CDC guidelines, follow the state and county orders, be able to protect children and staff who are at greater risk for illness, and be able to screen all community members when appropriate for symptoms and history of possible exposure. The San Mateo Public Schools in conjunction with the San Mateo County Health Officer have created four pillars necessary for public schools to start: hygiene, face coverings, physical distancing, and the absence of gatherings. These pillars will play a prominent role in Alto's physical reopening. Once we are open, Alto will promote health hygiene practices, ensure continual and thorough disinfection, enforce social distancing, and provide staff training on health and safety practices.
As has been the case, frequent and meaningful communication among all community members will continue to be critical. Alto will routinely communicate and monitor developments with local authorities and families and be ready to act if there are illnesses within the school community or the Menlo Park area.
In regards to all three scenarios, Alto is in constant contact with other private schools in the area and we understand that we are in the same scenario building situation at the moment. The committee has also researched several European schools on their approaches to returning to space-based learning and realize they are transferable to our setting if necessary.
While specific recommendations have resulted from the committee's conversations, the document below is intended to provide a high-level view of the three scenarios and how they will generally impact the Alto community. For any/all the scenarios to be successfully implemented, the collaboration currently existing between home and school will need to continue.